Huntsville officials say more vaccines coming, recommend but don’t require masking

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Huntsville officials said COVID-19 numbers are down, vaccination rates are going up, and they’re ready to get back to normal — but it’s not time yet for people to let their guards down when it comes to COVID-19.

As of Thursday, officials said there were 35 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Madison County.

As hospitalization rates remain low, vaccinations are about to increase. Huntsville Hospital’s senior vice president of operations, Tracy Doughty, said the hospital’s vaccine clinic set up at John Hunt Park is vaccinating about 3,000 people a day, and he expects that number to almost double in the coming weeks.

“We think the more shots in arms we can get done, the better it is for everybody,” Doughty said.

In addition to an increased vaccine supply, Doughty said they’re hoping outreach clinics in the next couple of weeks will help people who might have trouble getting transportation to the John Hunt Park site. Huntsville Hospital also has an online portal coming next week that will allow people to schedule their own vaccination.

Even with the good news about vaccinations and hospitalizations, officials urged people to remain cautious.

“We still have to do the same things we’ve done to get to this stage,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said.

That includes masking in public, even though it won’t be required as of 5 p.m. Friday. Battle said they ask that anyone interacting with city employees still wear masks at City Hall.

Battle said he understands the fatigue of constant masking and social distancing, but he said he believes if people will follow recommended safety guidelines for another 30 to 45 days, things can get back to normal.

“Let’s not spike the ball on the 5 yard line and not get over the goal line,” Battle said. “Let’s make sure that we still stay separated, sanitized and masked in a situation where you can’t control your environment within 3 feet.”

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